Many of you know that I used to work for Cicero's. I was a manager/server/bartender there for four years and in that time, the general manager was a man named Dan. We had a fairly friendly relationship the first year I worked there but when I switched to nights, we became very close friends in addition to being co-workers. He was like my work husband. I don't think I would have lasted four years at Cicero's had it not been for Dan. At one point, the employees were calling us work mom and dad!
I've always hated working Sundays but somehow at one point, Dan talked me into it. We closed early and it was a pretty easy shift with decent money. I used to bartend and he was the manager on duty.
The first year Cicero's was at the corner of Kingsland and Delmar, Dan went out and bought new icicle lights to hang and he decided to do it on a Sunday night after we closed. He told me I didn't have to stay, but I did anyway and it became a yearly tradition for us to hang those lights together, even after I no longer worked there, several years I went by and hung up the lights with him. I had the best conversations with him on Sundays- we laughed so much, but that didn't stop us from being serious, too. If you're lucky, you meet someone like him in your lifetime. We could tell each other anything.
Every time I see those holiday lights, I think of him. It doesn't take much to think of Dan, he was one of my dearest friends and I still don't think I am over the shock of him being taken from all of us by a heart attack at 45.
Dan was a complex man, he had a job to do and he could be tough as nails, some called him heartless, but they would have been wrong. He used to say he didn't give a shit about some things but the truth of the matter is, that man felt things more deeply than most of those employees ever knew.
He never fired anyone without cause and though he could make the tough choices, he was never without conscience.
I have lots of great Dan stories but one of my favorites was about a cook, I'll call Joe. Joe had worked there for about six months, and he was a pretty easy going guy for the most part. He showed up for his shifts, did his job and had a nice smile and a pretty good attitude. I had never had any problems with Joe, so I was surprised one night when Joe came out of the kitchen into the bar area angry and complaining, following Dan.
Honestly, I can't remember the details but I think Dan had caught him doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing and Joe was outraged and defensive. Dan told him to get back in the kitchen and finish his job, and Joe threw his apron on the floor and (I'll never forget this part) he said "Dan- you can just suck my dick!"
Dan very calmly said "Clock out, go home and don't come back. You're fired."
A slew of expletives followed but Joe clocked out and went home.
"Damn shame." I said, after it was over. "I liked him."
Dan agreed that he had liked Joe, too but we also agreed that he had no choice in firing him.
About a year later, I was just coming in to work when I saw Joe sitting at the bar with Dan and Dan was holding an application. He shook hands with Joe and then Joe walked out the back door, saying hello to me on the way.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"I just decided to hire back Joe. Give him another chance. He was a pretty good cook."
"Yeah, Dan, he was a pretty good cook. But...um, do you remember why you fired him?"
"Did I fire him? I couldn't remember, thought he might have quit."
"Oh no, you most definitely fired him."
"As I recall, because he threw his apron on the floor and told you to suck his dick."
Dan turned beet red and then laughed his deep belly laugh for about ten minutes.
"I sure wish I'd remembered that!" He said."Oh well, too late now!"
He forgave Joe and never brought up the incident and as I recall, he never had any similar problems with the guy. That was Dan. Heart of gold. I miss you, my friend. I miss my Sundays with Dan. I hope you're making 'em laugh wherever you are.